After ‘Black November’ a good number of the Nigerian audience should have inferred that we have seen the last of movies trying to push or send a message for the Niger Delta about the bad effects of crude oil discovery in their lands but writer, Samantha Iwowo had something coming.
‘Oloibiri’ tells the story of Boma (Richard M. Damijo), a first-class Geology graduate who feels angered and agonized for the damage that the foreign oil exploration companies are causing in their lands with impunity (He quits his big shot oil company job). Following a new exploration company (Fore Shore) coming to mine more oil from the land and the government paying no attention to their cries and sufferings, Boma decides to start a movement by becoming a militant. ‘Oloibiri’ is based on true events and captures the abandonment of the historical town of Oloibiri (the first town where oil was discovered in Nigeria in 1956). It captures what the lives of the people were (mostly happy and rustic) before and after the discovery of the ‘black gold’ in their land.
A DECENT MOVIE THAT ASKED A LOT OF QUESTIONS BUT FAILED TO PROVIDE ANY ANSWERS
The beauty of ‘Oloibiri’ emanates from the tour de force performances by the lead Nigerian cast. Olu Jacobs leads the pack as Elder Timipre, RMD and Ivie Okujaye following suit.
The acting from the European cast aside Mr. Powell (William R. Moses) was well below average. Iwowo’s screenplay was well researched and contained witty dialogue, but the story in itself felt like a rehash: one that could have been less hurriedly written (not sure if the editing led to this). ‘Oloibiri’ aimed to ask questions like; whose fault exactly is the problem the Niger-delta region is facing; is it the likes of Elder Timipre (Olu Jacobs) who fled the land abroad to avoid certain circumstances or out of grief? Or the village Elders who connive with these companies to reap where they do not sow? Or the companies who explore without considering the harmful effects on the lives of the people? These questions were asked but the answers were left to our imaginations. Characters were not properly developed mostly. The first thirty minutes dragged and the end was abrupt though conclusive.
The makeup was another cause for concern as the obviously painstakingly choreographed gunshot scenes were not given proper make up attention: not that it was poor but just not good enough. The escape at the closing scene was the most unconvincing part of the movie.
‘Oloibiri’ attempts to send a message we know, but in movies that have historic backgrounds like this one, great consideration is also given to the story and how it plays out, especially when the story is known too well. The evidently big budget and spot on locations and set was not enough to save this movie from Nollywood’s current plagues.